DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

When the Dog With the Most Toilet Paper Wins

Written by: on March 16, 2020

The COVID-19 virus is spreading over the globe. It began in China and has migrated and infected people in numerous countries. “There have already been 174,000 cases and 6,700 deaths worldwide.”[1] Fear and panic has also infected communities through digital media outlets highlighting stock market corrections, health-care system overloads, and supply chain challenges. People are hoarding items in anticipation of extended mandatory shutdowns, and in fear there won’t be enough basic supplies to fill demand in the days ahead.

It’s a dog-eat-dog world, and the dog with the most toilet paper wins.[2]

Todd Brewer recently shared his latest shopping experience:

“I walked into Trader Joe’s yesterday and the line wrapped around the entire building. Fresh produce was abundant, so I was hopeful for success. I had my toddler with me, so I was committed to making the most of this. As I turned to the freezer section, I realized what was going on. It was a barren wasteland; people were hoarding for the apocalypse and stocking up on non-perishable goods. I put the bananas back, walked out of the store with my now crying toddler, and went to another grocery store closer to home. It was perfectly normal — no long lines and fully stocked food.

As I waited to check out it hit me what was going on. I live in a predominately working class, Hispanic neighborhood. The Hoboken Trader Joe’s is frequented by, well, rich white people. My neighbors can’t afford to stockpile beyond the next week’s paycheck. The panic and extra food bought to “prepare for the worst” means that the plates of the poor go empty today. Some might feast on frozen pizzas in their bunker. Others have to scrape by with what they already have.”[3]

Humans are a funny breed. We stockpile and accumulate, and when infused with fear of the unknown and surrounded by panicked people, we stockpile and accumulate even more. Tragically, this taking of resources by one, often results in no resources for another. Even more tragically, this primal behavior isn’t isolated to the everyday Bob and Betty walking down the street; it happens in our churches, too. In fact, it’s been happening in the Church since its inception, and when it does, it’s those on the margins that often feel the sting the most.[4]

Somewhere along the way, the resource of God’s grace began to be hoarded as the Gospel was rationed, primarily extended to men and kept from women. Justification for rationing was substantiated by words recorded in scripture. Words written to a specific people, in a specific time, and on a specific occasion were used to dictate who was in and who was out; who was allowed access to divine resources and who wasn’t. As a result, women were pushed to the margins, forced to fend for themselves in regard to spiritual growth or to simply accept the teaching of those who would uphold a patriarchal system of religion. Women were entrusted to care for the spiritual formation of women and children, or to teach and preach the Gospel to “others” of the world through missionary efforts, but to do so within their faith communities where men were present, was deemed unacceptable.

Resources such as biblical training, pastoral mentoring, and ministry leadership opportunities were reserved for males. Fear of not enough platform, not enough positions, not enough power fueled inappropriate application of scripture to maintain homogeneity in established systems. Once the fear driven behavior began, it spread like wildfire throughout generations of Christ-followers, hobbling half of the Body of Christ and crippling the Church in unimaginable and unintended ways.

In Katia Adams’ Equal: What the Bible Says about Women, Men and Authority, and in Lucy Peppiatt’s Rediscovering Scripture’s Vision for Women: Fresh Perspectives on Disputed Texts, excellent exegetical methods examine biblical texts often referenced to prevent women from having authority within their church or home. Adams and Peppiatt carefully examine the various perspectives associated with particular passages in Genesis, 1 Corinthians, and 1 Timothy. They dissect Hebrew and Greek words, to determine not just meaning, but also intent. They explore cultural context to gain a more nuanced understanding of the words written. They employ all the methods once reserved for men, in a way that provides fresh perspective to the age-old battle over gender roles. Many scholars and Christ followers would do well to read their words. In doing so, a richer understanding can be obtained regarding God’s purpose for and reconciliation of humanity.

Sadly, those (both men and women) who would benefit most from their thorough and thoughtful scholarship would not read their words simply because they are written by women.

I wonder what the world would look like if those who follow Jesus stopped hoarding toilet paper, both literally and figuratively? I wonder what the Church would look like if it actually valued and affirmed women the way Jesus did? How would the love of God be unleashed in new ways if women no longer had to justify their existence or vocational calling through scripture? I wonder how valuing the whole Body of Christ might impact our witness and effectiveness in loving this broken world? I can only imagine that instead of a dog-eat-dog world, we’d have one where there’s more than enough resources and redemptive grace to go around.

 

Photo by Alvan Nee on Unsplash

[1]BBC News. 2020. “Corona Virus: Germany Shuts Shops and Venues.” BBC News online. March 16. Accessed March 16, 2020.  https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-51918596.

[2] For idiom origin info see https://www.idioms.online/dog-eat-dog/.

[3] Todd Brewer. 2020. “Hoarding in a Crisis, Stealing from Your Neighbor.” Mockingbird. March 13. Accessed March 16, 2020. https://mbird.com/2020/03/hoarding-in-a-crisis-stealing-from-your-neighbor/?fbclid=IwAR3-jEGEmcnQWuqyMtO4kDIm7y_mzb9RvnuvplTgKz_GkBpl43ATQSMraDQ.

[4] See 1 Cor 11:17-22 for example.

About the Author

mm

Darcy Hansen

7 responses to “When the Dog With the Most Toilet Paper Wins”

  1. mm Joe Castillo says:

    In my tradition, approach to women preaching and ordination by acknowledging the founder of the Free Methodist Church, who addresses potentially limiting New Testament passages and practical concerns by using the quadrilateral approach thought by Westley as a way to effectively find the middle ground in the argument of placement of women into ministry. In paper sounds good but in practice, it continues to be a struggle. I remember the story you share with me back in Oxford concerning the issue at church, why you left and your leadership as a woman. Nevertheless, I pray for God to open doors where you can flourish in your calling

  2. mm Shawn Cramer says:

    Darcy, brilliant and timely metaphor. This is a post I won’t easily forget! The zero-sum mentality for resources and power is plaguing us. I thought you might particularly enjoy Katia’s sermon pre-dating the release of this book “Rebuilding the Ruins”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_L5vPBmcQxs

  3. mm Greg Reich says:

    Darcy,
    Great metaphor! I am not sure I will ever look at toilet paper the same way. The all or nothing mentality of our culture tends to hinder our ability to think clearly. It causes us to drop our heads and forge forward without looking at the ramifications of our progress. By not coming to a resolution within the church we tie one arm behind our backs as the church faces the many issues of our culture.

  4. mm Dylan Branson says:

    Darcy, I think there’s a strong correlation between fear and the accumulation of power. Part of the issue we have within the church is that the patriarchal view is entrenched into the narrative identity the church has forged for so long. What’s so disconcerting is when people exegete various Scriptures as being “cultural, so we don’t have to worry about it” while considering other texts to be prescriptive that can’t be changed (such as the passages about women in leadership).

    But when we look at Galatians 3:28 where “There is no Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male or female, for you are all one in Christ”, we see that our primary identity isn’t found in our ethnicity, our gender, nor our social class, but ultimately in Christ. So we have to ask ourselves, “What is the identity of the church?” Is it founded upon Christ? Or is it founded upon a separate identity? Until we unravel the false identities the church has taken on, will the church be as God imagined it to be?

    Thanks for your post. We love you.

  5. mm Jer Swigart says:

    I was thinking the same thing as you as I read Adams and Peppiatt: too few will read these words.

    I’m curious. What do you see as the role of women and the role of men in advocating for equity? How do we work together in ways that create a lean-in with those who hold a rigid “stance” on the authority issue?

  6. mm John McLarty says:

    Great post- perfect connection. And a great illustration of our root sinfulness and default settings to self-preservation. I saw a post on someone’s FB page basically inviting all those who were scrambling to stock their pantries to consider how similar this must be to that of a refugee fleeing a war zone. I doubt very much that most Americans would ever admit the truth of that.

  7. mm Chris Pollock says:

    Christian Women Leaders are kept on the margins of Church Leadership. This is saddeningly still true and a problem. It was true when I was a kid, looking up to my mom, a prolific local leader in Christian Ministry and (over and over again) harmed by Church Leadership.

    There’s a struggle and, it seems that there is only a struggle because, there is a struggle. Fear is in the midst of it. And, control.

    Fear, went out and took all the toilet paper. Control, redistributes it. To somewhat-work with the comparison 🙂 there’s such tension in the ‘dog-eat-dog’ and men (perhaps, for the most part) are fearful for the extra competition! Still talking about the problem here.

    Taking a step back doesn’t necessarily mean having to step behind or down (which is a fearful thought, yet so Christ-like and undefended). Perhaps, a step to the side can be taken…or, a step back so as to ‘stand beside’. Oh, there’s so much more to this movement of togetherness! How can we better see this movement happening in a fluid, undefended, natural way?

    God bless you, Darcy! Thank you for the mind-opening thoughts 🙂

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